From the Writer’s Almanac:
It was on this day in 1793 that President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol building. It was designed as a much smaller building than the one we know because the senators and representatives had no offices, they simply worked at their desks on the floor of the House or Senate, and the public area under the dome was a flea market, where people sold everything from silk to light machinery. The wings were later extended, and then a larger dome was installed in proportion to the wings. The building as we know it was finished in the middle of the Civil War. Some people opposed spending money on a construction project in the middle of a war, but Abraham Lincoln thought the Capitol was a symbol that the Union would be preserved.
It is also the birthday of Samuel Johnson — considered by some the first journalist in the English-language world.